In a rather strange turn of events, I don’t want those 90 minutes of my life back.
This is one of those movies that I knew was going to suck (no pun intended) going into it but for reasons that I can’t articulate, I knew I had to watch it. I knew it was going to suck because it was a Sy Fy original movie and they are never very good. The premises rock, but the execution is just never as good as the idea. Plus you’ve got Lou Diamond Phillips and Greg Evigan as your stars. They must be willing to do anything for a buck these days. I wonder if, when Lou Diamond Phillips got his big break as Ritchie Valens in La Bamba, he thought that someday he’d be starring in a film called Metal Tornado.
But I digress. The gist of the movie is that Lou Diamond Phillips plays an astrophysicist who has solved the world energy crisis by harnessing the power of solar flares and turning it into magnetic energy, stored in huge batteries that can power the world for years to come. It’s a great idea except for one little thing – a 2% energy loss generates a free standing magnetic vortex, only it doesn’t stand still. It wreaks general havoc across Pennsylvania, picking up all metal objects until it is a cyclone full of pitchforks, cars, propane tanks, paper clips and anything else metal that you can think of. Oh, and it’s headed straight for Philadelphia.
You might think from my mocking tone that I was disappointed in the movie, but remember, I said that I didn’t want those 90 minutes of my life back. As it turns out, it’s the latest item in a long list of things that are better than they have any right being. In the case of Metal Tornado, it’s not that much better than it has a right to be, but it’s still better. I’ve said before that I’m kind of glad that CG effects have gotten so inexpensive that pretty much anyone can do them. Granted, these are pretty cheap special effects, but as a kid, I would have peed my pants to watch a movie about a metal tornado magnetizing the landscape. It’s just the kind of thing that, at age 12 or 13, I would have found in the TV Guide and stayed up until 2:40 AM to watch on HBO or Cinemax even though we had a VCR. Movies like these are meant to be viewed in a certain way. Viewing them expecting great cinema is the WRONG way to do it. It also does help to watch them in the middle of the night, but since I have to be up at 5AM tomorrow, there was no way that was happening tonight.
The acting was cheeseball, the characters little more than cardboard cutouts and the metal tornado a little bit of a let down because it never got really voracious and huge until the end, but watching a second metal tornado suck up the Eiffel Tower in Paris (don’t ask) was more than worth it.
When I was done watching it, all I could think was “this is what The Day After Tomorrow would have been like without a multimillion dollar budget and Jake Gyllenhaal.”
Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night when my wife and child are out of town.